Early on Tuesday morning Emily Bills phoned Jack to say that she and Davina would start work on the new path on Thursday but that the materials would be delivered sometime Wednesday afternoon and would he be at home to receive them, so Jack confirmed that he would.
In fact he was going to be home all week and planned to catch up with some email traffic.
After lunch however he did have a call from Dr Carole Anderson, asking if he and Kayleigh could meet her at the village hall at 2 o’clock.
As a result they had an early lunch and walked into the village for the appointed time.
When they approached the village hall they saw Dr Anderson and her receptionist Sarah Peters walking through the gate.
Once inside they found the new Vicar, Paul Massey and his girlfriend Martina Wingrove along with several members from the church committee.
Pleasantries were exchanged and Mrs Baxter, one of the older more unyielding members, even smiled at Jack, it was the type of smile that a baby makes, which you think is cute but it turns out to be wind.
When everyone was seated the business of the day could commence and given those assembled the only item on the agenda was Katie Watson.
First of all he informed them that a new front path was being laid that week, it was suggested that it might be widened to accommodate a wheelchair, but he had already thought of that and it was all in hand.
The front door was already wide enough as was the hallway.
The second item discussed were the arrangements for when the medical equipment could be delivered.
Carole and Kayleigh had provisionally agreed the first Monday in February and between them they had already done all the preliminary work and so it was just the final details to be sorted out.
Although he protested, it was decided a couple of volunteers would come and help him clear the lounge in readiness to receive a hospital bed and all its associated paraphernalia.
One area that took up quite some time to sort out was the nursing care.
The dioceses was to provide 24 hour nursing care for the last weeks but not for the whole period required, so a rota of volunteers would be required and someone to co-ordinate it, the obvious choice for this was Dr Anderson but clearly someone had assist who also needed to be medical so Jack suggested Gemma Frost who was matron up at Plaxton Park.
Equally important as Katie was such a popular person was a visitor’s rota and someone quite strict to administer it, this was a no brainer, so Sarah took this on.
The final item on the agenda was a date for when Katie would leave the Vicarage and take up residence in Jacks house, however short that stay might be.
Katie was keen to do it sooner rather than later and get out of Pauls way.
Paul on the other hand was not eager to hurry her out the door any sooner than was necessary, so they could only narrow it down to the second week of February.
Paul and Martina both volunteered to help her pack or redistribute her things as per her wishes.
Jack was keen that she should be able to surround herself with her personal things so he suggested they should make provision for that when preparing the room.
After that they adjourned the meeting and agreed to meet the same time the following week for a progress report.
Afterwards when almost everyone had left Jack got a chance to speak with Martina alone for the first time since before Christmas.
“I have a confession to make,” She said sheepishly.
“What’s that?” he asked
“I haven’t finished the installation yet” she said and covered her face with her hands.
“Is that all?” he asked
“What? You’re not cross with me?” she said through her fingers
“Of course not” he replied
“But I have no excuse” she admitted “no convoluted set of circumstances that would constitute a noble reason for not doing what I promised”
“You fell in love,” Jack said simply
“Yes I did” She responded blushing
“Well what better reason is there than that?” he continued
“Not very professional though” Martina said hanging her head
“Sometimes life just has a habit of getting in the way,” he said philosophically
“I’m so sorry” she said
“Don’t be silly, it’s not important,” he said “just finish it when you can”
But she didn’t look convinced
“Look, you’re so lucky, you’ve found love, just be happy”
“I am happy,” she said “and…”
“And what?” he asked
“We’re getting engaged” Martina told him.
“That’s fantastic,” he said genuinely
“We’re not telling anyone yet” she explained, “we don’t want to upset Katie”
“Why would she be upset?” he asked
“Well I feel guilty enough that she has to give up her home” she said “To tell her about getting engaged feels like rubbing salt in the wound”
“Katie knows that life goes on” he explained, “Tell her, she will be so happy”
After a kiss and a hug they said goodbye and he and Kayleigh left the church hall and went and tracked Gemma down and told her what he had volunteered her for.
As he suspected she was only too happy to help and promised to make the meeting the next week.
On Wednesday Jack continued in his fruitful correspondence management with gusto, interrupted only by the occasional pangs of hunger, and the promised delivery of building supplies Emily had forewarned him about being deposited on his drive.
Bright and early Thursday morning Davina knocked on the door.
“Hi Jack” she said brightly “Emily’s on her way”
“Davina!! You’re early” he replied
“Yes I know” she said “is the kettle on?”
“It’s not, but come in anyway” he said
Davina was a skinny waif like creature in her early twenties, with short straw blonde hair, in a kind of pixie cut, although it was probably achieved more by accident than design, and she was wearing a baggy tee shirt, leggings and work boots.
As he showed her into the kitchen he thought how confident she was now, with not a hint remaining of that timid creature he first met barely a year before.
After making a drink they sat at the kitchen table and chatted, mainly about her love life, or lack of it.
The mention of love life made him think immediately of Kayleigh and that made him sad because he was not seeing her for a couple of days plus he had to listen to Davina’s woes.
Ian Carr, her ex-boyfriend, was the main topic of conversation, because he wouldn’t accept it was over and kept pestering her.
“The only way to put him off is to find a replacement” Jack said
“That’s easier said than done” she retorted
She would have continued to bend his ear on the subject had Emily not knocked at the back door.
Emily Bills was a pretty woman with weathered elfin features, and short brunette hair, and a wiry muscular physique, but she managed to look feminine, she was not however a girly girl and had always tended to be a tomboy.
She stood five foot eight inches tall, and was slender and lean and she was a townie girl from Purplemere, and was twenty nine years old.
After Emily consumed her tea the girls set about laying the new front path and Jack went into his study and phoned Jacey and James at the club in order to be brought up to speed.
And his study was where he stayed for the best part of the day, only stopping to feed and water the girls.
The weather couldn’t have been better for the job in hand and by the end of the day Emily and Davina had done really well and had got all the foundation work done.
Because the old stepped path was being replaced by one all on the same level, much of the first day was spent building up the level confined within retaining walls, they worked on until 7.30pm to make sure they completed stage one.
As they had stayed so late Jack ordered an Indian takeaway and they sat in the lounge eating off trays on their laps and Kayleigh arrived just in time to join them.
Friday began dull and overcast but the sun soon burst through and was perfect for Emily and Davina to lay the pavers.
Jack didn’t feel particularly sunny though as Kayleigh was going to be spending the day with Carl as it was his birthday.
She always spent the important dates, Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, New Year’s Eve, Halloween and Valentines with Carl up at Plaxton Park even if she didn’t know if he knew she was there or not because Carl was involved in a devastating car accident that left him severely, physically and mentally disabled and in need of perpetual care and had not responded to any external stimuli.
So she spent the majority of the day playing him her recordings or reading to him.
While the girls toiled outside Jack pottered about inside the house and made a start packing away a few bits and pieces into boxes and moving a quantity of DVD’s and books into the study so as to be out of sight of more sensitive souls, unfortunately that action reminded him that he needed to tidy in there as he was going to be using it a lot more in the coming weeks.
Apart from providing a regular supply of hot drinks and giving them a hot lunch he worked on tidying the study all day and the girls pressed on outside.
When he stopped what he was doing at four o’clock all the pavers were down and Davina was just hosing off the drive.
So after another successful day all that was needed was for Emily to return on Saturday morning to apply the finishing touches.
When they were getting ready to leave for the day he carried a couple of boxes he had filled out to the garage and then he was just on his way upstairs for a long relaxing bath when there was a knock at the door.
He thought one of the girls must have forgotten something but he opened it to reveal two muscular well tones young men with red hair and heavily freckled faces, the older of the two was in his late twenty and the other one was five years younger.
“Mr. Morehouse?” The older of the two men asked
“Yes” he replied
“We’re the Rooney brothers” the younger one said “I’m James and this is my brother David”
“Oh yes?” he said.
“Yes, we volunteered to help get the house ready for the Vicar” the older brother David said
“Oh ok but I’m not ready just yet” Jack said as he looked beyond them to see that the girls had stopped what they were doing and were giving the boys their undivided attention.
“That’s ok when you’re ready just give either of us a ring” James said and handed him a card
“Ok thanks lads” he said “it will be in the next week or two”
As the boys walked down the new path Emily and Davina watched them all the way and the flicking of hair did not go unnoticed by the Rooney boys.
Jack stood and smiled as the girls and the Rooney’s silently flirted with each other and when the boys finally left, Emily and Davina almost sprinted up to Jack and Emily asked urgently.
“Who were they?”
“Who were who?” he teased
“Don’t mess with me Jack” she said wielding a bass broom
“Oh the Rooney’s you mean” he said
“Tell us more” Davina demanded poking him in the chest
“Ok, ok, they are farmers from Lower Hawthorne” he said
“And…” Emily added
“The older one is David” he replied addressing Emily and then he turned to Davina and added “and the younger one is James”
“And what were they doing here?” she asked
“They are going to be helping to get the house ready for the vicar”
“Really? When?” Emily asked
“That information is on a strict “need to know” basis”
“Don’t make us hurt you” Davina said with a prod
“I’m seeing a different side of you Miss Carley”
“Never mind all that, just spill the beans” she said threateningly
“It’s still to be arranged” Jack said “So you two had better start being nice to me if you want to know when I know”